NDP, Greens defeat Liberal political donations bill

The NDP and Green Party shot down two Liberal government bills Monday as they prepare to overthrow Premier Christy Clark in a confidence vote this week.

The Liberals introduced a bill to ban union and corporate donations to political parties despite rejecting similar legislation introduced by the NDP six times since 2005.

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NDP and Green MLAs killed the bill immediately on introduction, outvoting the Liberals 44-42.

The NDP-Green alliance also quashed a surprise Liberal bill to give the Greens party status in the legislature.

It’s first time in memory that a pair of government bills failed to make it past first reading, effectively barring them from even being described in the legislature, let alone debated.

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, who has signed an accord with the NDP to topple Clark, accused the premier of continuing to play “partisan games” when her first priority should be testing the confidence of the house rather than trying to pass legislation.

“In our view, it’s not appropriate for us to be debating government business until such time as the confidence has been tested,” he said.

Weaver said the Liberals had 16 years to reform campaign finance laws and failed to do so.

He said the Greens have already stopped taking union and corporate donations and will be pleased to pass legislation to get big money out of B.C. politics once the Clark government faces a confidence vote.

NDP Leader John Horgan introduced a confidence motion on the throne speech Monday, but the Liberals refused to give unanimous consent for an immediate vote.

Instead, government house leader Mike de Jong said he expects the vote will take place late Thursday afternoon according to the rules that govern the legislature.

The NDP and Green Party agreed to vote against the Liberals in a confidence motion after none of the parties won a majority of seats in the May election. The Liberals have 43 seats to 41 for the NDP and three for the Greens.

If the Liberals fall, Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon would have the option of calling an election or asking Horgan to form a minority government based on his agreement with the Greens.

In an attempt to stave off defeat, the Liberals delivered a throne speech last week that borrowed heavily from the NDP and Green campaign platforms by promising, among other things, to hike welfare rates, develop a poverty-reduction strategy and tie disability assistance rates to inflation.

Horgan and Weaver have dismissed the speech as a last-gasp attempt by the Liberals to hang onto power.

Horgan challenged Clark in the legislature Monday to immediately call a confidence vote, noting that it has been seven weeks since the election.

“When will she put the politics aside?“ he asked. “When will she say and concede that 44 is a larger number than 43? Let’s have a vote. Let’s have a confidence motion and put in place a government that will focus on the challenges people are facing right across B.C.”

Clark, however, urged the opposition parties to support the throne speech, saying that it contains ideas from all three parties.

“The road to stability is not to defeat the throne speech and to risk an election,” she warned. “The road to stability and the road to being able to make sure that government, working together in this legislature, can get on with the business in this house, is to support the throne speech and ensure we can keep the business of government going on.”

lkines@timescolonist.com

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